The challenge of co-parenting arises from honest communication between you and your former spouse. Trust acts as the glue that keeps both parents sincere about co-parenting. One of the main components of success in co-parenting is when you and your spouse “both deeply care about your children and want to continue raising them in the least-disruptive possible manner,” according to Rosalind Sedacca, a divorce and parenting coach. While co-parenting is a great way to keep a family together despite having divorced parents, it is not a good method for every couple. Parents have to live in close proximity of each other in order to have their children continue their daily activities with little disturbance, even through the divorce process.
Constant interaction with you and your former spouse will develop greater comfort and security for your child with either parent. In return, you do not have to depend on others to care for your child because you have the other parent to help. However, a co-parenting relationship is a challenging concept and will not be easy. It is not something you can accomplish by reading a few how-to guides; and it is certainly not the intention of divorce and parenting coach, Sedacca, to tell you foolproof ways to be master being co-parents. She does, however, point out aspects of your relationship with your former spouse that can improve your co-parenting behavior.
One of the crucial points Sedacca and many other divorce specialists say is to behave in a friendly manner when your former spouse is in the picture. This applies even when your former spouse is not physically around you at the moment. You should not criticize or put down your former spouse when you are around your children. If your children ask questions, it is best practice to give them “age-appropriate” answers. Sedacca emphasizes that you should not be judgmental, but still be honest. If you do put-down your former spouse, it will affect your child’s perspective on you and your former spouse. It will also bring upon feelings of guilt and hurt within your child. You should remind your child that your divorce is not a result of something your child did. Most importantly, do not manipulate your child’s opinion with your own.
Allowing your children to spend equal time with you and your former spouse is another important point that can help your co-parenting skills. Do not hoard all the special occasions with your children for yourself. Any special time with the children should be available to both parents. Whether it is taking a driver’s test or going to try out for a sport, only you or your former spouse should be sharing these moments with your children. It is advised to limit, or even avoid, involving a new partner in these milestones. You and your former spouse should even prioritize being together for more special occasions, such as birthdays and graduations. It is very important that your children experience a sense of family. In order to be a good co-parent, you should consider everyone in your family and eliminate any stress for your children.
Lastly, be smart about the battles you choose with your former spouse. There are going to be a lot of disagreements between the two of you, so judge which arguments are worth discussing and which situations are out of your control. With any relationship, communication is the key to success. That rule goes for a co-parenting relationship as well. If honesty is not a virtue in your relationship, there will be a greater chance for conflict, jealousy, stress, and tension. Once your communication with the other co-parent, the trust that has kept the family together has been tainted and will cause chaos for the family. Usually the children are the most impacted by the chaos. All in all, you and your former spouse have to cooperate with one another and be able to stay flexible with your schedule.